How to Make A Holiday-Worthy Wine List?

Holiday Pairing Tips from Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein

Just about anything will go with turkey I call “Cotton in the shape of a bird” – but I like Pinot Noir, aged Cabernet Sauvignon, juicy young Spanish Rioja, or even a decadent Italian Amarone, ideally with a few years of cellaring.

Roast beef is a decadent holiday favorite. Not gonna lie – Red wine with red meat rocks. A twist is as follows – Contrast the cooking of your meat with the opposite in the wine: If you like your meat rare, go for a developed older wine; the meat’s juices will rejuvenate the nuances of the mature bottle. If you like your meat more well done, choose a younger bottle whose fruit and youth will replenish and revive the meat’s more cooked personality.

Baked ham is a tradition for holiday dinners and pairs well at the table with rosés, especially when brushed with a cranberry or honey glaze. And yes, white zinfandel qualifies if that’s what Aunt Sylvia likes best.

Rich textured starches (mashed potatoes or yams) are not always the focus of holiday pairing but if that’s your calling, go with smooth and rich reds (think Merlot, Pinot Noir or Cru Beaujolais) or whites (satiny and round Chardonnay.)

Chestnuts are great with white Rhône styles. These wines are full-bodied and unapologetic table mates. Delicate but rich and creamy, white Rhône grapes lend themselves well to classic holiday chestnuts—be they in stuffing, served as a side dish with pancetta, herbs, and onions, or simply roasted. Have them with Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc or any Rhône combination!

Though a year-round dessert, apple pie makes itself particularly known between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. Play up the flavors of toasted nuts, vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus rind and find linkage with so many dessert wines. Here at Master The World, we are suckers for Sauternes but most any late harvested wine will do just fine.

To learn more about Wine & Food pairing, download my guide from my Perfect Pairings book here.

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